Backlash

Representative George Dondero (1883-1968)

Representative George Dondero succeeded at labeling modern art "un-American" and in so doing defined the relationship between government and art for more than a decade.

While Advancing American Art gained acclaim abroad, criticism at home was mounting. By early 1947 a host of private individuals as well as members of congress were calling for the exhibit to be ended. This was based on distaste for modern art. The charge was led by Michigan Representative George Dondero who decried the exhibit as a waste of taxpayer money on nonsensical modern art which was not representational of America, and worst of all the artists were suspected of communist backgrounds or affiliations.

Critics successfully labeled modern art as “un-American” and Advancing American Art was recalled in June, 1947. In the aftermath of the exhibit, private modern art proponents were bitter and wary of the federal government while the State Department was gun-shy to engage in art diplomacy again, especially that which involved modern art.